NFL against-the-spread picks: Cowboys keep winning for bettors; can they cover vs. Patriots?

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NFL teams don't win every game against the spread. Nobody is ever going to be the 1972 Miami Dolphins of the betting world. 

It's hard to get as far as the Dallas Cowboys have without taking a loss against the spread. There's only one team that has covered the spread in all five games this season. That would be Dallas. 

Streaks like this don't last too long, but they're pretty fun when you're riding them. The Cowboys aren't going undefeated against the spread, of course, but is this the week they slip up? 

The Cowboys are 3.5-point favorites at BetMGM vs. the New England Patriots. Given the lack of home-field advantage left in the NFL and how much better Dallas has looked, the line doesn't seem inflated. 

Picking the Cowboys seems too obvious, and maybe that's what oddsmakers were aiming for with this line. It just seems hard to believe that the Patriots, with an offense that is not generating any big plays or easy scores, can keep up with a Cowboys team that can pick whichever method it wants to score. The defense hasn't been that bad either. The Cowboys are clearly the better team and I'm not sure the Patriots can keep up with them. Bill Belichick will have to put together a nearly perfect game plan (which is possible, of course).

The reason teams start losing against the spread is it's hard to be great in the NFL for months at a time, and oddsmakers will eventually make bettors pay a tax. The latter is a reason the Kansas City Chiefs, who were so good against the spread early in the Patrick Mahomes era, are on a 2-13-1 streak against the number. It will happen to the Cowboys too. 

According to Boyd's Bets, the best record any team has put up against the spread for a season, including playoffs, is 16-3. The 1989 San Francisco 49ers and 2016 New England Patriots share that record. The Cowboys probably aren't in the same class as those teams. But they can still win plenty of money for bettors this season. They already have done quite well. 

The betting losses for the Cowboys are coming. They do for every team. But hopefully there's still one week left before that happens. Take the Cowboys. 

Ezekiel Elliott and the Cowboys are off to a great start. (Photo by Richard Rodriguez/Getty Images)
Ezekiel Elliott and the Cowboys are off to a great start. (Photo by Richard Rodriguez/Getty Images)

Here are the Week 6 against-the-spread picks, with lines from BetMGM

Eagles (+7) over Buccaneers

It's hard to go against Tom Brady, but the Bucs have a lot of injuries and this is too many points

Dolphins (-3) over Jaguars

The "whoever is playing the Jaguars" train moves on. 

Bears (+4.5) over Packers

The Bears look a lot better since Bill Lazor took play-calling duties from Matt Nagy. I worry about what happens if the Bears fall behind and Justin Fields has to carry the offense, but that hasn't happened yet. Maybe they can keep this one close too. 

Lions (+3.5) over Bengals

The Lions aren't a comfortable side to back. No 0-5 team will be. But the Lions have battled in every game. You wonder when all that effort not resulting in a win breaks their spirit, but I don't think that has happened yet. I think they fight hard again this week. This isn't an 0-5 team that looks entirely lost and has no hope to keep a game close (*cough* Jaguars *cough*). 

Texans (+10) over Colts

It's worth wondering what a Monday night collapse will do to a team that is now 1-4. No matter what, this is a Colts team that really shouldn't be favored by this much except against teams coached by Urban Meyer. 

Rams (-9.5) over Giants

It's not a pick I feel great about it, but it's very hard to get behind a Giants team that has spent the week wondering who would be healthy enough to play. Even if everyone is healthy, it's not like the Giants are all that good. 

Chiefs (-7) over Washington

The Chiefs might be a team worth betting against bad teams and fading against good teams. Despite my preseason optimism, Washington is bad. The defense has been atrocious. That's not good when you're facing Kansas City. And yes, the Chiefs' defense is bad too, but do you want to back Washington in a shootout against Kansas City? 

Panthers (+1) over Vikings

This line has moved, with the favorite changing. I'm not willing to write off the Vikings yet. All their games have been close and we'd think differently about them if they had a little more luck in those tight contests. Still, I believe in the Panthers a little more. They just have to keep Sam Darnold from turning the ball over which, admittedly, could end up being a big ask. 

Chargers (+2.5) over Ravens

I think the wrong team is favored. The Ravens are good — Lamar Jackson is taking his game to a whole new level — but they also needed miracle comebacks to beat the 0-5 Lions and 1-4 Colts. The Chargers are really on a roll, and I'm not sure a defense that was just picked apart by Carson Wentz can slow down Justin Herbert. Give me the Chargers to win straight up. 

Browns (-3) over Cardinals

This is a game that I might change my mind on a dozen times before Sunday. It's a great matchup with a tough spread. I'll lean Browns because their fantastic run offense isn't a great matchup for the Cardinals defense, which has given up plenty on the ground. I also wouldn't be surprised if this ends up being a push. 

Raiders (+3.5) over Broncos

I hate boiling down Jon Gruden's statements in those ugly emails into how it affects analyzing a football game. But that's what this spot is for, and I don't think it's smart to assume the Raiders won't play well. A lot of those players were probably insulted by Gruden's words. They're professionals and they'll want to play well, regardless of what's going on behind the scenes. I think we'll see the Raiders rally, for at least one week. 

Steelers (-5) over Seahawks

I know Geno Smith looked good in relief of Russell Wilson, but let's not overreact. Wilson is a do-everything quarterback who covers up a ton of flaws. The Seahawks often have had an outdated approach, and it's Wilson's magic act that saves them. Smith isn't doing that. Do I love backing the Steelers, who are going to struggle all season to score? Not really. But I don't like betting on Smith to move the ball on the Steelers' D. 

Titans (+5.5) over Bills

This was a hard pick, because I buy fully into the Bills being a potentially great team. But I also believe in letdown spots. The game that was going to define the Bills' season happened last Sunday night. It would be surprising if they weren't a little flat after blowing out the Chiefs. I don't love the Titans and maybe this will be a blowout, but the situation is too strong for the home underdog. 

Last week: 9-6-1

Season to date: 44-35-1

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